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Association between circulating inflammatory markers and marksmanship following intense military training
  1. Yftach Gepner1,
  2. J R Hoffman1,
  3. M W Hoffman2,
  4. H Zelicha3,
  5. H Cohen4 and
  6. I Ostfeld5
  1. 1 Sport and Exercise Science, Burnett School of Biomedical Science, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA
  2. 2 Apex Sport Performance, Tel Aviv, Israel
  3. 3 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba, Israel
  4. 4 Anxiety and Stress Research Unit, Beer-Sheva Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Division of Psychiatry, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
  5. 5 Israel Defense Forces, Medical Corps, Tel Aviv, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Dr J R Hoffman, Sport and Exercise Science, Burnet School of Biomedical Science, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fl 32766, USA; jay.hoffman{at}


Introduction Intense military operations during deployment or training are associated with elevations in inflammatory cytokine markers. However, the influence of an inflammatory response on military-specific skills is unclear. This study examined the association between brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial fibrillar acidic protein, markers of inflammation, marksmanship and cognitive function following a week of intense military field training.

Methods Twenty male soldiers (20.1±0.6 years; 1.78±0.05m; 74.1±7.9kg) from the same elite combat unit of the Israel Defense Forces volunteered to participate in this study. Soldiers completed a five-day period of intense field training including navigation of 27.8km/day with load carriages of ~50% of their body mass. Soldiers slept approximately fivehours per day and were provided with military field rations. Following the final navigational exercise, soldiers returned to their base and provided a blood sample. In addition, cognitive function assessment and both dynamic and static shooting (15 shots each) were performed following a 200 m gauntlet, in which soldiers had to use hand-to-hand combat skills to reach the shooting range.

Results Results revealed that tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) concentrations were inversely correlated with dynamic shooting (r=−0.646, p=0.005). In addition, a trend (r=0.415, p=0.098) was noted between TNF-α concentrations and target engagement speed (ie, time to complete the shooting protocol). BDNF concentrations were significantly correlated with the Serial Sevens Test performance (r=0.672, p=0.012).

Conclusion The results of this investigation indicate that elevated TNF-α concentrations and lower BDNF concentrations in soldiers following intense military training were associated with decreases in marksmanship and cognitive function, respectively.

  • soldiers
  • cytokines
  • BDNF
  • GFAP
  • inflammation
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  • Contributors All authors contributed significantly to the data collection and/or writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The Institutional Review Board of the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps approved this research study.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Data will be available upon request.

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